This week’s Pitch and Pizza was brought to us by Alex O’Byrne from WeMakeWebsites. For those of you who missed out on all the great web analytic insight he shared on Tuesday, here’s a guest blog from Alex:
I did a recent Pitch n Pizza at the Hub Islington to discuss how business owners can improve the effectiveness of their website, and how we should promote our new website creation own service called Thrive for startup businesses. The Hubbers that attended generated some clear and actionable advice that we’ve already put to use!
Here’s a summary of the advice I gave. It concerns how you should focus your website so that it meets an end goal i.e. something like…
– Gain more enquiries from your contact form
– Increase telephone enquiries
– Promote a message
– Acquire donations
Or for e-commerce sites…
– More checkout revenue
– Increase repeat visits
Here are my five tips to make your website work for you…
1. Measure your effectiveness
Whatever it is – you need some way of measuring how effective your website is. Sometimes this is relatively easy, sometimes not.
I won’t talk about measuring and improving general traffic levels (i.e. the number of people visiting your site) here as this is beyond the scope of this article. Instead we are talking about making your site more effective once someone finds it.
Typically your ‘goal’ will have a unique URL for instance:
– Your contact form submission page like a ‘thanks for enquiring’ will have a unique URL
– Your checkout complete page with have a unique URL
– Your contact page will have a unique URL
You can set these up as goals in Google Analytics.
If your goal is to have someone ring you, set up a unique phone number for your website so that you can measure how many enquiries originate from there. For a simpler method, you can always just ask the caller where they heard about you. Either way, make a note of this so that you can work out how people are finding you. Then you can plough more effort in to this method with a sure return.
Typically you should also be measuring bounce rate, that is the percentage of people that land on your site then press the back button straight away. If this is high, you need to look at improving your copy and images so that your message is more obvious and compelling.
You should also measure site engagement, typically this is done by measuring the amount of time someone spends on your site. Again, this is down to how interesting your website is.
2. Making your site interesting
Firstly, a unique, compelling modern design will help. Remember people judge a book by its cover, even though they are told not to.
Use interesting photography, not obvious corny cliche stock photography. Not that stock photography is bad, just be careful what you choose. For the love of timothy don’t use clip art!
Obviously a good web designer can deal with all this for you, but if that’s beyond your budget consider a service like SquareSpace (link: http://www.squarespace.com/ ) which has elegant modern themes that can be easily customised.
On the home page, make your headline copy a combination of these:
– Why you are different – “We recycle restaurant waste for local benefit”, “I am an accountant with a startup background”, “I am a product designer for green businesses”, “We do freelance PR for boutique city firms”. Make sure this is focused.
– The end client benefit – “We’ll generate more leads from your website”, “We’ll cut your admin costs”, “I’ll get you in front of your key audiences”
– How long it will take – “most clients I work with get in their publication of choice within two months”, “Most design projects I work on are delivered within two months”, “I can typically double your sales within six months”. If you can back these up with stats and case studies you are a star and this should be touted on your front page.
The message here should be continued through the site. Focus your site on what you are good at and a good way to do that is…
3. Reduce. Reduce. Reduce.
Go through your menu options and eliminate or assimilate content. You don’t want people clicking all over your site going to fragmented areas, you want them to absorb focused content.
People just don’t read large amount of text on the internet, unless it’s a specific blog article that has captured their attention.
So cut down your text, go through your website copy, which could have bloated over the years, and cut out the unnecessary bits.
A good thing to do is look through how much you talk about yourself; “we are designers”, “how we work”, “our story” and look at how much you are talking about the customer “we can make your life easier”, “we’ll get rid of the hassle of tax returns”, “we’ll manage your PPC campaign so you can look after the leads”. This is far more appealing for a would be customer, it’s an easier mental effort for them to realise how you can help them.
A similar mistake I see on a lot on ‘About’ pages is to talk about your company history and how you are structured. Sorry, but no one cares about this! Not as much as they care about themselves anyway. Sad I know!
Instead, simply list 5 reasons a prospective client should work with you. That will be far more compelling.
Include a paragraph about your history and what you do, but put it afterwards.
End with a call to action: “Contact us now for a free consultation”, “Phone us to discuss your next project”, “Share on facebook if you want to help”
4. Include testimonials
People don’t want to risk working with an unproven brand. If they are spending their own cash, they want to get the most they can for it, and if they are spending someone else’s (i.e. they work at a company and have a boss) they don’t want to look like an idiot for choosing a product or service that doesn’t deliver.
Think about how you can reduce these concerns. One of the most effective ways is to show how successful you’ve been with past customers. Contact three to five of them and ask for a compelling testimonial, and if possible, some sort of statistic of how the work you did benefited them.
I love testimonials. As a buyer, I always use them before going for a service and similarly I read at least three reviews on amazon before I commit to a purchase. This is the same for most people.
So include your testimonials somewhere prominent and include a menu item called ‘Testimonials’ that links to a page of them. Link to the business the testimonial author represents so people know they are real and valid. Don’t just put the authors name (and no company) next to your testimonials, unless they are really famous celebrities there is no social proof there – people want to see endorsement from a reputable source.
You could also link from each testimonial to an individual case study on that project. Talk about the problem you encountered and how you solved it, and most importantly what the outcome was. Don’t waffle, just convey concisely the specific way you helped them.
5. Clear and consistent call to action
Now you’re talking!
All the above should make your website more engaging and with the right sort of traffic (i.e. people that are in the market for your services) you should start to see your website becoming more effective.
To push the visitor towards that end goal your website must embody a call to action that is in line with your business goals. Do you want more enquiries from your website? Do you want them to phone you? Do you want them to buy something? Do you want them to share something on facebook?
This should be the end goal of all your content. Convince the visitor and then make it easy for them to perform the next step. Include a clear call to action that stands out from the page.
Where possible, measure it as mentioned in the first step, find the sources of traffic that are converting well (for example, people finding your advice blog posts on Google may click through to your end goal more than your social media click throughs), then invest in a marketing strategy that compliments that.
This is just the start but should go a long way in making your website more effective.
For more information or for individual advice please email me.
WeMakeWebsites make modern, effective Drupal websites for London businesses. We have a new service for startups called Thrive.